Newcastle College Students Using the iHR System
Image Source: Mark Savage
Students at Newcastle College Energy Academy experience the world's most advanced iHR wind turbine training system.

Member Article

Newcastle College - Building a Workforce for Green Energy and Digital in the North East

You may not automatically associate a further education college with innovation or developing future solutions, but Newcastle College (and its University Centre) has always been passionate about both.

The College has been making waves by developing innovative qualifications designed to drive talent and skills that meet the needs of employers in the North East and translate to real careers for its students and graduates.

As part of NCG, one of the largest education groups in the country, it not only strives to make a local impact but works as part of a collective to make a big difference on a national scale.

Chief Executive of NCG Liz Bromley sits on the Business Growth Board of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), ensuring that Newcastle College plays a central role and remains aligned with the current and future needs of the region - developing its own plans to support those needs.

Working closely with local industry leaders the College has forged valuable relationships - joining collectives such as Dynamo and Digital Union, sharing facilities with engineering employers like Port of Blyth and creating a Digital Advisory Board - all with the intent of shaping its courses and qualifications to offer the right skills and experience.

It may not sound like a ground-breaking approach, but it enables Newcastle College to develop innovative solutions to skills shortages that may not even exist yet. By working closely with industry and local leaders, it can identify the skills and experience that are in real demand and respond by creating unique opportunities to gain those skills.

Just one example is the recent launch of its Foundation Degree in Engineering with Applied Digital Technologies, developed with the help of its Digital Advisory Board, Procter and Gamble and the expertise of local engineering specialists Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) and Metrology Software Products (MSP),

The two-year course is a direct response to an increase in North East manufacturers adopting emerging industrial digital technology, creating a digital skills gap in the sector. Tailor made to meet the demands of those employers, the degree also supports the region’s Local Industrial Strategy for Advanced Manufacturing by linking engineering principles with digital skills, to equip a new generation of highly-skilled and digitally-enabled engineers.

Last year, the same Digital Advisory Board helped the College to recognise a growing need in the region’s digital sector to recruit work-ready talent.

In response, the College developed and launched a Digital and Technology Solutions degree apprenticeship, working in partnership with digital powerhouse Accenture. The first of its kind in the UK, it is a unique fast-track programme that helps apprentices to become fully qualified in just two years, rather than the traditional three.

And, while the government announced its ‘Build Back Greener’ plan just a few weeks ago, the sector has been at the top of Newcastle College’s priorities since it opened its Energy Academy in 2012 - a facility dedicated to training engineers for subsea and offshore wind.

Students at the Energy Academy train using world-leading technology (the world’s most immersive Hybrid Reality (iHR) wind turbine training platform is housed there) and have access to real working facilities and industry leaders at Port of Blyth, showing just how valuable those relationships are.

The College’s approach is about developing real and powerful solutions to new and future problems, supporting the current and future needs of the region and employers, and helping people learn the skills they need, quickly and efficiently.

And that puts Newcastle College in the best position position possible - ready to step up and help skill, reskill and upskill to support the North East and the UK through the recovery and rebuild of this current crisis.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Charlotte Horsfield .

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